In the summer heat, there’s nothing better than a quick dip in the water to cool off. But if you have a feline friend then you know that most cats seem to hate water and will do anything to avoid it.
You may be wondering: can cats swim if they ever have to (or want to)?
We spoke to Jamie Fischer, veterinary assistant at DodoVet, to find out if cats can swim like dogs.
Can Cats Swim Naturally?
While it’s widely believed that cats and water don’t get along, both domestic and feral cats can actually swim.
“All cats can instinctively swim when they need to or want to,” Fischer told The Dodo. “Wild cats hunt like tigers in the water and use the water to regulate their body temperature.”
Why do cats hate water?
Although your cat can swim, you may get the impression that this is not her favorite activity. It might be difficult to say for sure why many cats hate water, but there are a few theories.
“This can have various reasons, for example a negative experience with water [like] a forced bath as a kitten or a fall in the pool,” said Fischer. “Another theory is that cats evolved out of desert climates and haven’t had much exposure to rivers, lakes, etc. Or maybe it’s because they just don’t like having a soggy and heavy coat!”
But this contempt for water does not apply to all house cats.
“In fact, some cat breeds love the water, like Maine Coon, Bengal, and Manx breeds,” Fischer said.
(But it’s important to note that every cat is different; some of these breeds may prefer to stay on land.)
Can you teach your cat to like the water?
If you’re trying to encourage your cat to enjoy the water, just make sure you never force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do.
However, doing this gradually and using positive reinforcement can help your BFF make positive associations with the water.
“If you’re trying to teach your cat to like to swim or play in the water, do it slowly,” Fischer said. “Give them a chance to enjoy it for themselves and offer them lots of positive reinforcement, like extra pets and treats, if they willingly try.”
Where should you go swimming with your cat?
If your cat enjoys swimming, it’s important to know which spots are okay for a quick dip and which ones to avoid.
“Just make sure you’re doing this in a safe environment, such as For example, in a home pool with easy exits for your cat to come out when it’s ready,” Fischer said. “I would not recommend swimming in a river or lake with your cat as currents or large bodies of water can present riskier environments for a small cat.”
So if you’ve ever wondered, “Can cats swim?” Now you have your answer! Just remember to never force your BFF to go swimming with you if he doesn’t feel it.
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